Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


Miami-Dade Community College, one of the largest community college systems In the United States, enrolls many high risk students and large numbers of minorities. Of all the campuses which comprise the College, It Is the North Campus which has the highest concentration of these students. In order to assist these "non-traditional" students wo remain in college and succeed in their academic endeavors a one credit extended orientation course entitled College Survival was developed. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects after one year that College Survival had upon student retention and academic achievement (as measured by grade point average) on those ne, first time college students who enrolled for the course during the Fall Term of 1987. Specific research questions which were addressed in this study Included 1. Did an extended orientation program (College Survival) lead to an increase in the retention rate of students? 2. Were here any significant differences in students grade point averages (GPA) between those students who took College Survival and those who did not after one term and after one year? 3. Did College Survival reduce attrition and increase GPA over the course of a year? 4. What effect, If any, did ethnicity have upon retention? 5. What effect, If any. did ethnicity have upon GPA? The total population for this project (N-2,118) included all new, first time in college students who enrolled in College Survival (N=1.006) for the Fall Term of 1987, which comprised the experimental group. The control group (N=1,112) consisted of new, first time in college students who did not enroll for College Survival for the Fall Term of 1987. This Information was ascertained by an examination of the students' official transcripts furnished by the North Campus Registrar's Office. In addition, specific demographic and basic skills assessment data were compelled and categorized for the purposes of this research. Eight null hypotheses were formulated, four dealing with retention and four dealing with academic achievement as the result of taking College Survival. The hypotheses were analyzed using the chi-square statistical technique with an acceptable probability level of -05. The chi-square analysis indicated that after one year (Fall Term. 1988) College Survival was significant in terms of retentor and academic achievement for those students who took the course. Conclusions drawn from this study indicated that the College Survival course and the attendant results of this research are In accord with the literature in terms of the importance of getting students off to a good start in college. While having a significant impact on students after one year. College Survival had an even greater impact loon students after one term, especially when ethnicity was taken Into account. Overall. Hispanic students appeared to have derived the greatest benefits from the course. A final conclusion was that this research confirmed much of the work of theorists who espoused the importance of "Institutional fit" as being critical to success in college. Recommendations from this study included 1. College Survival should be maintained as a mandatory course for new, first time in college students. 2. Faculty members must be screened prior to being offered a teaching assignment for this particular course. 3. Research on Individual instructor effectiveness should be conducted. 4. Mandatory training sessions for new and old faculty members teaching College Survival should be implemented. 5. Several sections of College Survival should be extended to two terms on an experimental basis. 6. The faculty mentor role as a component of College Survival needs to be strengthened. 7. College Survival can serve as a vehicle for insuring students get the services they need at the college. 8. Non-cognitive variables, i.e. self-concept and realistic self-appraisal, need to be stressed more in College Survival particularly as it pertains to ethnicity. 9. Faculty from various disciplines as well as students and academic advisors should meet periodically to discuss College Survival In terms of further direction and potential curricular modification if needed. 10. Course and teacher evaluations should be mandatory. 11. Special sections of College Survival. i.e. sections taught in Spanish for non-native speakers of English should be maintained and expanded. 12. Longitudinal studies need to be done to measure the long term effects of extended orientation programs on the student population. 13. Although the literature has a vast amount of material on orientation and its impact on retention and academic achievement, most of it comes from the universities. Community colleges need to get actively Involved in conducting research particularly with issues such as retention which is currently commanding the national spotlight.

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